Swansea City will battle Brentford for a place in the Premier League after a tense 1-1 draw with Barnsley gave them a 2-1 aggregate victory in the Championship play-off semi-final.
Matt Grimes’ sparkling goal put Swansea 2-0 up in the tie but Barnsley levelled through Cauley Woodrow’s sharp finish.
Valerien Ismael’s team piled pressure on as they looked to take the contest to extra time.
But Swansea held on and will face Brentford at Wembley.
Like the first leg, this was not a pretty contest as Barnsley’s high-tempo, direct style caused problems for Swansea.
But as they had on Monday night – and have done on numerous occasions this season – Steve Cooper’s side proved they could compete in a physical contest.
Barnsley’s plan was to knock Swansea out of their stride from the outset, and Ismael’s men asked questions in the first half without creating many chances.
But it was Swansea who seized the initiative six minutes before half-time when Grimes curled the ball inside the far post.
Barnsley responded admirably after the break, claiming a deserved equaliser as Woodrow rifled in from the edge of the area.
The Tykes asked all the questions from that point on, but Swansea dug deep to hold on and set up a meeting with Brentford on Saturday, 29 May.
One game away from a top-flight return
Last season Swansea won their play-off semi-final first leg against Brentford 1-0 only to miss out on Wembley after a 3-1 loss in the second.
Having gone a step further this time around, Cooper’s team face a rematch with Thomas Frank’s side in this year’s final.
Swansea won their first leg at Barnsley thanks to the sort of resilient, determined display which they produced on a regular basis until a late-season dip in form ended their hopes of automatic promotion.
The hosts dealt with a Barnsley barrage at Oakwell, and it was similar story for much of the second leg.
Chances were at a premium in a first half lacking quality, as Callum Brittain fluffed one shooting opportunity from a corner and lifted another effort beyond the far post.
The one touch of class was provided by Grimes, who brought the ball down just outside the box after Brad Collins had palmed out Conor Hourihane’s free-kick.
Grimes’ quick feet took him past the onrushing Brittain before he guided a glorious effort into the far corner of the net.
Barnsley heads did not drop, with Carlton Morris seeing an effort saved before Jordan Williams’ far-post shot was blocked by the sliding Jake Bidwell.
Swansea were creaking, and Barnsley deservedly levelled when Williams led a rapid counter-attack before squaring for Woodrow to flash a crisp shot into the bottom corner of the net.
The hosts were camped in their own half in the closing stages but, for all the late control, Barnsley could not conjure the sort of clear-cut chance needed to keep their season alive.
Relief reigned among 3,000 Swansea fans – watching their team in the flesh for the first time in 441 days – when the final whistle eventually came.
Three years after relegation from the Premier League, their team are are one game away from rejoining the elite.
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